The Longest Winter

The Longest Winter in my memory has (hopefully) ended. It was a pretty cold one to boot.

It started out with two major life events, the birth of our second daughter, Freya, and a big move to our new home, which I am calling Stately Foley Manor. 


Stately Foley Manor - lots of space. Hopefully lots of birds.

The very first species onto the garden list? Stunning Nutcrackers! 


Nutcrackers - That'll do.

We made a quick trip down to Turku to show off Freya to family for the Father's day weekend, where I got to spend some quality time at Topinoja dump with Caspian Gull and Goshawks.








Caspian Gull - 1st Winter a really striking looking, classic bird. 







Goshawk




We spent the first few weeks, as you might imagine, unpacking, renovating where we could and adjusting to Freya's routine, before a host of visitors descended on us for the Christmas.

It really was great to have the big house full of guests, and of course, meant we could go birding a fair bit.

My old friend Ciarán Smyth and his wife Idé were the first to arrive, and winter specialities were on the agenda. 





Rough-Legged Buzzard 




Rough-Legged Buzzard (Ciarán Smyth)



Nutcracker 


Nutcracker - (Ciarán Smyth)



Great Spotted Woodpecker 


Great-Grey Shrike

For the first time ever with visitors here in Winter we failed to find Pygmy Owl this time around, but did enjoy a Hawk Owl (never fails to please) in the city itself.






Hawk Owl - The best bird in the universe, finally on Cas's list. 







Score

We also enjoyed a wintering Little Bunting in Helsinki, a decent temporal rarity which gave itself up. 








Little Bunting - a decent winter rare.





Little Bunting score


Spring rolled around and the typical influx of geese appeared.

As always, I took the time to enjoy Bean Geese in huge numbers.



















Bean Geese of every shape and size - try your luck at specific ID.


Bewick's Swan, always a decent scarcity was also on the agenda. 



Common Crane are also an early migrant. A brilliant fixture of the Finnish landscape.


Dancing Common Crane are always a joy to behold.



Pink-Footed Goose is a decent scarcity here in Finland, always a good one to connect with. 





The Baltic Gulls have also made a return, with these birds photographed whilst looking for a 2nd Winter Caspian Gull reported at Viiki.

Whilst looking for the Caspian, I found this rather fetching Heuglin's Type, looking all blue-ish in contrast to the Baltics nearby. 





Heuglin's Type - this has exactly the kind of blue tone to the grey upperparts I expect for better Heuglin's candidates I see here. Really stands out among the jet black of Baltics.

I then managed to pick up a Caspian of my own, with a cracking 1st Winter suddenly appearing on the waste center roof. 











Caspian Gull - 1st Winter 


Nice to get Caspian Gull on the year list so early. Most often it's May or later before I find one of these, so this was an unexpected bonus.

Now awaiting the full onslaught of Spring and hopefully a big influx of Raptors and Passerines to get the place jumping.


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